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Ten Truths For Teenagers: Essential Ideas On Law

Do you have teens or preteens in the house?

My kids aren’t quite there yet, but a couple of years ago I felt impressed to write Lessons From a Lemonade Stand: An Unconventional Guide to Government  because I recognized that it didn’t do a lot of good to feed kids healthy doses of liberty in the Tuttle Twins series and then abandon them as they entered their teen years.

At the time, I was already getting requests for a teen series of Tuttle Twins books, but I hadn’t yet figured out how I wanted to make that happen. Maybe I wasn’t quite ready for Ethan and Emily to grow up? Happily, my fatherly nostalgia passed and we’ve now got three Choose Your Consequence books for teens (with more planned for the future).

But back to Lessons From a Lemonade Stand

I’ve always found it concerning that so many people don’t understand rights and the law. So many adults have been brainwashed to believe that all laws are inherently just and that it is only natural that government be allowed to do things that individuals are not “allowed” to do. So when writing my first book for teens, I created a list of principles that I felt would lay a sound foundation for understanding rights and law and the proper role of government.

  1. Not all law is created equal
    Law is imperfect, ever-changing, and subject to tradition and culture. There are several types of law to learn about.

  1. An unjust law isn’t a law
    A mandate that violates your freedom or compels you to do something you’re not obligated to is not a true law.

  1. Government only has powers that we do
    Government cannot possess a power unless we ourselves have that power and delegate it to the government.

  1. Not everything prohibited is bad
    There are many problematic “laws” that prohibit and punish activities that are not inherently wrong.

  1. Your state of mind matters
    It is an injustice to punish a person for breaking a law that they were unaware of or did not purposefully break.

  1. Nobody has given consent
    A just government operates with the consent of the governed, but that standard has not been met in our day.

  1. The state ≠ the government
    Government is found in business, family, church, etc. The state is different—it’s a monopoly using violence in a certain area.

  1. Competition can cure the state
    Competition increases quality and decreases costs. Subjecting the state to competition will bring the same result.

  1. Civil disobedience is… obedience
    When properly done, the breaking of an unjust law is not mere defiance—it is an effort to uphold and honor a higher law.

  2. Freedom declines slowly The state’s erosion of our rights is slow, steady, and incremental. We must understand our rights in order to defend them.

So why are these truths so important? And why do so many people not know them?

They’re important because they challenge the narrative that government is “us” and that it’s okay for a group of people, even if they’re elected, to do things that individuals aren’t able to do without breaking the law. Understanding these truths leads people to learn about jury nullification, to entertain the notion of appropriate civil disobedience, and to feel the desire to become active in their communities to get rid of bad laws and bad politicians. It also leads them to want to share their knowledge with others.

Why do so few people know these truths? Well… If you were a government, and you didn’t want people to know how far out of line you were in the usurpation of their rights and freedoms, would you use your influence through the public education system to teach them to limit and question your power?

Or would you maybe use it to teach them that a benevolent government grants them their rights upon condition of obedience and loyalty? Would you teach them that there are alternatives to all-powerful and overreaching government, or would you teach them that nothing is possible without the government’s permission and protection?

For generations now, children have been taught to view their government as an extension of themselves and their community. They’ve been taught that the Constitution grants us our rights and that only through the generosity of government are we allowed to keep them. They’ve been fooled to accept that those within government can operate by a different set of rules than everyone else and that deference and homage should be paid to their elected representatives.

These are lies. But they are lies that have been perpetuated for so long that the truth can seem shocking, even anarchistic, when presented in clear terms. But read the list again, and you will find that these principles aren’t really shocking at all. They are principles that some of the greatest freedom-fighters and heroes of history have known and operated under. And they are principles that are still very much true today.

One generation of teens learning these simple truths has the potential to drastically change the political landscape in this (or any) country. I hope you have occasion to discuss this list with your teens (or get them a copy of the book!). I have no doubt that they will surprise you with their insights and wisdom.

— Connor

 

Be Vigilant In Looking For The Good

Happy Tuesday!

It seems like the last few weeks have been pretty heavy on the bad, sad, and otherwise depressing news—impeachment drama, unrest in the Middle East, celebrity deaths, a rapidly spreading Chinese virus, the Grammys—so I thought maybe a little recap of the good was in order:

Did you hear that a recent poll found that Americans still go to the library more than they go to the movies?

“The average 10.5 trips to the library U.S. adults report taking in 2019 exceeds their participation in eight other common leisure activities,” said Justin McCarthy, a journalist and analyst at Gallup.

The eight other activities were: going to the movies, attending a live sporting event, attending a concert or the theater, visiting a national or historic park, visiting a museum, visiting a casino, going to an amusement or theme park, and visiting the zoo.

Go books!

I love getting emails and messages from people who donate the Tuttle Twins series to their local libraries, so if you ever want to make a donation of our books, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on social media and we’ll hook you up with a sweet discount. 😉

How about the dad who built his disabled nine year old daughter, Ava, a custom controller for her Nintendo Switch out of parts he found on eBay? Bryce Johnson, one of the inventors of the Xbox controller, even jumped in to share some tips and insights with Ava’s dad as he was working out the details. I dare you to watch this video of Ava playing The Legend of Zelda and not catch her joy.

Did you hear this story—a followup to a near-fatal accident that occurred on the Pacific Coast Highway last spring?

Jack Keith was driving his truck when he became distracted by the beautiful ocean views and drifted slightly into the bicycle lane. Tom Sovilla, an experienced cyclist, was struck and sent airborne by the impact. He was rushed to the hospital with a broken pelvis, bruised intestines, blood clots in his brain, torn knee ligaments, and a broken back.

Jack was beside himself with worry and guilt, but because of privacy laws, he was unable to find out how Tom was doing—or if he had even survived. He was relieved and humbled to receive this text a few days later:

“Hey, this is Jenette, Tom’s wife, the guy who was involved in the accident. He is going to be alright — we’ve been praying for you.

Jack was invited to come to the hospital and visit Tom, and has since spent the months of Tom’s difficult recovery by his side as often as possible. They’ve become friends; with Jack even using his skills as a craft
tsman to make renovations on Tom’s home, making it easier for him to get around with all his injuries.

When Tom was asked how he and his wife and six daughters were able to forgive Jack, he replied, “Holding on to things just eats away at you. It doesn’t necessarily hurt the other person. I think if people can understand that, then people would learn to forgive because forgiveness is a big part [of] your own mental and physical health.”

Jenette agreed, adding, “We could live our lives angry and bitter about lots of things that have happened to us. Why? It doesn’t help anything.”

This story reminds me of the lesson in forgiveness learned by all the kids at summer camp in The Tuttle Twins and the Golden Rule.

The world would be a better place with more hearts like Tom’s and Jack’s and Jenette’s.

And what recap of good news would be complete without a selection of animal rescues?

Did you see the one about Peaches, the emotional support goat, who was stolen but then found and returned to her depressed patient who happened to be a cow who wasn’t faring well after the death of her cow friend?

Or the kittens whose mother thought the best place to start her family was in a coconut tree on Kauai but then bailed after birth and left them literally dangling from the top? Maybe no Mom-of-the-Year awards here… but the folks who rescued the little guys were pretty great!

And lastly, the story of Alberta resident Kendall Diwisch who was making his morning rounds checking on wells when he came across three kittens who had been dumped out in the middle of nowhere and had actually become frozen in ice. Thanks to Kendall’s soft heart, and some lukewarm coffee, the kittens were all rescued and have since been adopted out (together) to a family who had recently lost their beloved cat.

It’s really easy to get bogged down by all the bad news. Stories like these certainly don’t create nearly the buzz (or revenue) that the scary or sad or contentious stories do. If we take a step back, it’s hard not to see how we are being engineered by the media to live in a constant state of fear and worry and uncertainty. I even wrote a book about it a few years ago.

When people feel hopeless, or helpless, or afraid, they are more likely to hand over their freedom to a massive government that promises security and comfort than those who feel confident and self-reliant and prepared.

But there has always been tragedy.  And there has always been disease. And there have always been wars and rumors of wars.

Sure, it’s important for us to know what’s happening in the world. And of course it is our responsibility to fight corruption and protect ourselves and our families and our communities as best we can. But we also need to be aware of the methods that government and media use to create an easily controlled and manipulated population, and fight just as vigilantly against that.

So if we are going to be happy and healthy and productive in spite of all the sad and bad and frightening things in the world, it is going to be up to us to seek out the good and to at least balance the awful things happening with all the beautiful and inspiring and uplifting things happening as well.

In the words of Albus Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.” (If my wife knew I was quoting something from Harry Potter, she’d laugh… don’t tell her!)

Here’s to a week of turning on the light!

— Connor

 

Throwing The Babies Out With The Bath Water

Do you remember the old adage about babies and bathwater? Wikipedia says it originated somewhere in Germany in the 1500s and summarizes it thus:

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” is an idiomatic expression for an avoidable error in which something good is eliminated when trying to get rid of something bad, or in other words, rejecting the favorable along with the unfavorable.

On Monday, we observed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I took the opportunity to post a few quotes of his that I have particularly enjoyed. One of the first comments on the post was, “Giving praise to the adulterer communist, eh?”

A few months ago, we used a photo and quote of Winston Churchill on our social media and immediately received a couple of comments about Churchill’s moral failures as well as racist ideas and comments attributed to him.

A post featuring H.L. Menken with “Morality is doing what’s right regardless of what you’re told. Obedience is doing what is told regardless of what is right” emblazoned across his image garnered this remark:

“I don’t think this is the person with whom Tuttle Twins ought associate. If you’ve read ALL of his writing, you know why.” When someone said that they in fact hadn’t read ALL of Menken’s writing but were curious why one should distance themselves from this quote, the poster replied, “It can take a good deal of time to source everything and look at it in context, but I do not think the apparent misogyny and racism and anti-theism can all be explained away.”

John Kennedy is reported to have said, at a dinner honoring Nobel Prize winners of the Western Hemisphere, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” He continued, “Someone once said that Thomas Jefferson was a gentleman of 32 who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, and dance the minuet.”

These days, if a man quotes Jefferson, or praises his work, he runs the risk of being called a racist, a misogynist, and possibly a slavery sympathizer. Guilt by quotation—or something like that.

I’d like you to do a little experiment with me. Pause for a moment, and think back on the people you grew up viewing as “The Greats.” Now think of how many of them could stand the scrutiny of being looked at through the lense of history with which we now have the luxury of viewing those who came before us. If time were devoted to reading everything that was ever said about them by friend, enemy, servant, spouse, or child would there be evidence to prove them less admirable than you previously imagined them to be?

In the Tuttle Twins and the Education Vacation, the Tuttle family tours Europe and spends a day at the Colosseum. Ethan says to his father, “This sign says that over half a million people lost their lives fighting animals and other people in the arena.” Mr. Tuttle adds, “And it was built by thousands of Jewish slaves. That shows how a lot of history is ugly, but we learn about it to try and be better.”

I wonder if certain people today wouldn’t, if it was within their power, tear down the Colosseum and bury its bloody history (and the lessons to be learned from it) in the name of condemning slavery and animal cruelty? Imagine what we would have lost if earlier people had, upon the realization that some of their leaders or history were sometimes repugnant, chosen to remove all mention of them? What would we have lost, and what tragedies would we have repeated?

I’m not saying that we should simply ignore the less-than-admirable traits of those who helped build our world. They don’t have to get a pass on being jerks, or Marxists, or racists, or philanderers, simply because they also wrote the Declaration of Independence, or helped defeat the Nazis, or ended racial segregation.

What I am saying is that the demand by some that we dismiss the entire contribution of a person because we now know that they were morally flawed (or downright wrong) in some areas of their lives sounds an awful lot like the thinking that leads to the banning of books or the propagandizing of history.

I chose to base The Tuttle Twins and the Search for Atlas  on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. A lot of people had their minds opened up to some really important and life-changing ideas through Rand’s writing, and I felt that those ideas were worth creating a story around. Many people haven’t heard of a lot of the authors whose work we’ve based the Tuttle Twins books on, but most people have heard of Rand and her Atlas.

Democratic socialists and communists obviously can’t stand Rand—what with all the individuality and hard work and personal responsibility that she wrote about—but I sometimes get responses from those who generally agree with me but who think that basing a book on Atlas, or highlighting Rand’s work, was unnecessary because she ended up being such a flawed person.

It’s true that Ayn Rand ended up alone and broke—collecting Social Security and depending on Medicare after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Her personal life was full of heartache and betrayal, and she had some pretty strong views that can make her seem bigoted and cruel now. She had some views that I have never accepted and completely disagree with.

But I don’t believe that I have to condone every single choice someone made, or support every view they espoused, in order to see the value that they brought through their work. I think it’s good and right to search Dr. King’s work for beautiful and inspiring and empowering messages, and I agree with President Kennedy about Thomas Jefferson’s one-in-a-million mind even if I don’t think that his personal life always reflected the morals that he espoused.

I believe that it’s important for us to be able to find all the virtuous and good and praiseworthy ideas in as many people as we can. Our reading lists would be very short, indeed, if we reserved our sources to only those we could prove to be perfect.

I like this comment, left on a Facebook thread about those who were once revered but have since fallen out of public favor:

“I take it all with a grain of salt. It’s too convenient to attack individuals who are not able to defend themselves. It’s also silly to apply our hindsight to their worldview and expect them to have seen things our way.”

Indeed.

— Connor

Why Are So Many Teens Keen On Socialism?

Every now and then I get a chance to visit with groups of young people. Sometimes I get invited to classrooms to share my books, sometimes I get to speak with groups of teens who are interested in entrepreneurship, and sometimes I get emails or messages in response to podcasts they’ve heard me on or books they’ve read. I get a lot of inspiration and encouragement from those interactions, and I really enjoy them.

I recently got a lengthy email from a nineteen year old college freshman. She had been homeschooled up to college and shared with me some of the things she had observed in her first semester at university.  She said:

Young America is essentially obsessed with identifying as a collectivist group. No matter where you go, you get asked questions about your religious or political affiliations, the music genre you enjoy, your ethnic makeup, your relationship status and your sexual preference. Everyone has a diagnosis of one disorder or ailment or another and they want to tell you about it and figure out if you’re on the same meds as them. If you’re not identifying as a member of a certain group, the collective mind of everyone just kind of implodes. It’s like they can’t just get to know you for who you are. You have to have all these identifiers and the beginning of any meeting of strangers is dedicated to figuring out which pre-determined group you belong to.

She continued by talking about some of her encounters with her peers and how fully they have embraced socialism as the “fix” for our country and how frustrating she finds it that,

While young Americans are obsessed with protecting their ability to express themselves to the fullest, and with their own special uniqueness, they fail to realize that socialism leaves no room for free will and is in violation of their unalienable rights. And they immediately turn on you if you try to point it out.

Later, she observed:

Social movements make a disconnected generation feel like they belong to something. The dawning of a digital era gave rise to people only existing socially within the media, paving the way for figurative social movements led by people who have no interest in physical change, but only talking about all the hypothetical things that could happen, and how they think things should be. With the majority of our lives being spent on the internet, of course we are going to be influenced by it, but young people are gravitating towards social movements based on things they are reading on Twitter—meaning the majority of young socialists are unaware of the damage socialism has caused throughout history—because they are unaware of the facts that can be found if they were to leave the Twitter app and do some actual research for themselves. Everyone wants to be “woke” but no one wants to actually learn anything. They are all just living in echo chambers that support whatever their favorite influencer or celebrity is saying.

Although I agree with her about the echo-chamber wokeness provided by social media, something else this young woman said really struck me.

Social movements make a disconnected generation feel like they belong to something.

Wow. I mentioned this to another teenager I had the chance to talk to and she agreed, and expounded on it, telling me that she felt that the breakdown of the family as the central unit of society, and the amount of time that kids are spending in school (many programs allow parents to send their kids to all-day school from the time they are three years old until they are eighteen) has helped to create the ideal environment for kids to be attracted to socialism.

I got to thinking… Since the left is peddling this “new” brand of socialism as “being social” and “taking care of each other” and “not being selfish” and “building a place where everyone belongs,” it’s no wonder kids who feel largely disconnected from real relationships and who have essentially been raised by the public education system instead of their parents are so drawn to it and are so hostile toward learning the dark and dirty history of these ideas.

Someone once said that social media has made us at once the most connected, and also the most lonely society the world has ever known. Although I’m certain there are many more factors contributing to the shocking rise in collectivist thinking among young people, I think there’s definitely something to be said for a disconnected-feeling generation seeking solace and comfort in a movement that makes false promises of familial belonging and social justice.

I talk a lot about the fact that it’s going to be up to concerned parents and grandparents to teach the principles of freedom and liberty to the next generation, but these interactions with these two young women really reminded me just how deep the roots of collectivism have been planted in today’s youth and how vital our work is in turning back this rising tide of anti-liberty thinking.

I’m pretty stoked that we now have our teen books in addition to our original Tuttle Twins series. I got asked about making a set for older kids a ton over the last several years but the timing just wasn’t right until recently. Giving families resources to continue reinforcing the foundational principles of a free society that were taught in the kids books is something I’m really proud of. If you haven’t seen our teen books yet, check them out here.

Talking with teenagers—hearing their ideas and observations—reminds me that they really are still listening to the adults in their lives who they love and respect. We do still have their attention, even if it doesn’t always seem like they’re listening.

— Connor

The Patriotism Of Peace

A couple of days ago we shared this image on our social media pages. It was “liked” and “shared” by more people than had negative responses to it, but I think some of those negative responses deserve to be shared and their messages discussed.

Brandon W. “Yeah, nothing says ‘I’m a doormat and little b***h’ like letting someone constantly slap the s**t outta you and not doing anything to stop them”

Skye F. “Screw that, some people need to die, sometimes by way of explosion…”

William B. “He who has the most/biggest bomb(s) wins.”

Kirk W. “Nukes end the cycle…ask Japan.”

Steve G. “Sorry don’t agree! Especially since Iran has been killing Americans for decades. It’s time to turn their sand into a sh** hole country!”

Steven D. “And that’s why when we bomb someone, we shouldn’t stop until there are none of those people left to ‘get even.’ Yes. They should be killed until they abandon Islam as well as any notion of ‘getting even’ or until they no longer exist. Whichever, I’m fine with both.

I have zero sympathy or concern for a 1,400year old enemy of Western Civilization that is islime. Killing musrats is its own justification and reward. Same for communists and socialists. Lemme guess, you think tumors have a right to exist until they stand to kill the body, right?”

Shane W. “… bomb the hell out of them.”

I wonder if any of these commenters could even find Iran on a map, or if they know that Tehran has ski resorts that rival some of the best and most beautiful in the world? If they saw this picture, would they still wish for the city and all of its inhabitants to simply be obliterated?

I think it is a sad truth that it has become, to some, unpatriotic to oppose war and question government and to view even “our enemies” as human beings. The founders of the United States were clear in their writings and policies that they understood that a healthy distrust of government and a reluctance to enter hostilities with other nations was imperative to preserving freedom and liberty and keeping a nation strong.

Have we truly become so polarized by partisan politics that we’ve lost our ability to hold our government accountable for actions that aren’t necessarily in the long-term best interest of our nation? Even the anti-war left—so vocal during the Bush presidencies—disappeared almost entirely under President Obama in spite of his flagrant drone campaigns, the accidental bombings of hospitals and the murder of an American teenager in a foreign land. It is only now beginning to reemerge.

I am confused at how people who recognize that wars have been fought and lives have been spent under false pretenses can so quickly be persuaded to support the next campaign. I’m confused at what makes someone decide that another nation’s actions can only be judged from a certain date and close their eyes and ears to anything that happened before. (Did you know that the USA once dethroned Iran’s elected leader and installed a brutal dictator in his place? Knowing our history helps inform why things are currently happening the way they are.)

I picture the people who made the comments above teaching their children to be gentle with animals, to value and love others, and to treat them with respect and compassion. I imagine them in their churches and with their families, praying for their loved ones and making treasured memories, and wonder at how they are unable to see that those in other nations—even nations with whom ours are not friendly—are so very much like them.

I read comments like these, and I think of the threats and rants by angry leaders and people of foreign countries which are used to incite us to start wars and to fear for our safety and the safety of those we love. Are the things written by “patriotic” Americans on social media threads really any different than the chants of “Death to America!” that we see on the news? When we talk openly of “wiping them off the map” and “turning their country into a parking lot” and “nuking them all” do we think that… they don’t hear us?

I once had an occasion to discuss war with my young daughter, and her words impressed upon me the wisdom of children and their understanding of justice and right and wrong. I explained that sometimes, the leader of one country does something that makes the leader of another country very angry. I said that usually they would try to talk about it and find a way to get along even though they were both angry, but that if that didn’t work then they would decide to go to war.

Both countries gather their armies, I explained, and their soldiers fight each other. Lots of people die on both sides of the fight—even people who aren’t soldiers. Even children and grandparents and family pets. Whole cities get destroyed, and it leaves damage that lasts for many, many years after a winner is decided. She asked only one question: “Why don’t the two leaders just fight each other and let all the people just live?” Why, indeed.

I don’t believe that Iranian graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi gets it wrong when she says,

“The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same.”

Congressman Ron Paul talks about blowback often. He covered it, and the non-aggression principle, in his book A Foreign Policy of Freedom which The Tuttle Twins and the Golden Rule  is based on. We have an illustration in Golden Rule that is very similar to the image which depicts the bombing cycle. We use it in our advertising fairly often, but because of the timing of our posting it this week, some people found its sentiment anti-American or anti-Trump (which are not, for the record, the same thing).

Katie, who helps with our social media, chose to address one such claim with this response:

We are comfortable with questioning the status quo of what patriotism means in respect to military action in order to open people’s minds to biases they may not realize they hold and educate children about the consequences of aggression.

This conflict is—as most conflicts are—rooted beyond the last five, ten, or twenty years. Only good can come from educating people to ask deeper questions and consider what the actions of their government may look like to people in other parts of the world.

Last week, the US government killed a bad guy. I don’t think there are many people around who disagree that he was a bad guy. In response, Iran bombed US assets… in Iraq. It looks now that as tensions were high with the expectation that the US might retaliate, Iran may have targeted a Ukrainian jetliner resulting in the deaths of all 176 passengers. There were no Americans on board.

Will the countries whose citizens were aboard the ill-fated plane blame the United States? Will they blame Iran? Will Ukraine, Pakistan, Canada, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany, and the UK all now have a dog in this fight? What about Iraq? Were there Iraqi innocents killed when Tehran avenged the killing of their General by bombing US assets in Baghdad?

Does anyone even care?

Asking these questions and being concerned about their answers shouldn’t be viewed as unpatriotic. We have seen a century of near-total war (can you believe it?) and it is nothing if not patriotic to want to see it end. Teaching about peaceful interactions with others, and educating about the revenge cycle of blowback, can go far in raising our children to be better stewards of peace and power than those who have come before them.

My hope—and also my sincere prayer—is that we may engage in honest dialogue with ourselves and with others about the actions proposed and carried out by our government and that we may, at some time in the not so distant future, be able to reclaim patriotism as a demand that those elected to represent and defend us do so with wisdom and in deference to the long term consequences of their actions.

— Connor

 

 

Is Liberal Agenda Advocacy Just The Norm In Teaching Now?

*Record screech* … Wait, what did I just read?!

“New teachers, I’m sorry if we veteran educators have misguided you about the profession. It’s not about cute classrooms & trendy ideas. It’s political. It’s advocacy. It’s the front line of battle for the future of our nation. Go no further if you’re not ready.”

Okay, that’s terrible. But surely it’s just some random leftist twitter warrior. Right? No teacher with any type of actual influence would say something like this. He’d be fired immediately. Right?! So I did a little digging—and it turns out this guy isn’t a nobody afterall.

“This teacher has won plenty of accolades such as GQ Magazines’ Male Leader of the Year, and finished in the top 5 for Teacher of the Year in SC, as well as winning an award from President Obama for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, The SC Dept of Ed released a glowing report on Mr. Dearbury which can be viewed here.”

If you skim the comments in our social media ads and posts you’ll find teachers who sometimes take offense at our books and the values and principles they promote. One teacher from Texas made the point that he didn’t have to fight us because he had our children for eight hours a day and he could teach them whatever he wanted without parents even knowing—much less having the power to stop him.

Awhile back I wrote about a new trend that saw teachers abandoning their beloved profession because they could no longer in good conscience be part of a system made to indoctrinate children into political ideology.  Those teachers find themselves in good company.

When I wrote The Tuttle Twins and the Education Vacation  I was heavily inspired by John Taylor Gatto who famously declared “I am no longer willing to hurt children.” Mr. Gatto resigned from teaching by writing an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal  while holding the title of New York State Teacher of the Year. Excuse my sharing this lengthy chunk of text, but it’s worth reading.

I’ve taught public school for 26 years but I just can’t do it anymore. For years I asked the local school board and superintendent to let me teach a curriculum that doesn’t hurt kids, but they had other fish to fry. So I’m going to quit, I think.

I’ve come slowly to understand what it is I really teach: A curriculum of confusion, class position, arbitrary justice, vulgarity, rudeness, disrespect for privacy, indifference to quality, and utter dependency. I teach how to fit into a world I don’t want to live in.

I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t train children to wait to be told what to do; I can’t train people to drop what they are doing when a bell sounds; I can’t persuade children to feel some justice in their class placement when there isn’t any, and I can’t persuade children to believe teachers have valuable secrets they can acquire by becoming our disciples. That isn’t true.

Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents.

An exaggeration? Hardly. Parents aren’t meant to participate in our form of schooling, rhetoric to the contrary. My orders as schoolteacher are to make children fit an animal training system, not to help each find his or her personal path.

The whole blueprint of school procedure is Egyptian, not Greek or Roman. It grows from the faith that human value is a scarce thing, represented symbolically by the narrow peak of a pyramid.

That idea passed into American history through the Puritans. It found its “scientific” presentation in the bell curve, along which talent supposedly apportions itself by some Iron Law of biology.

It’s a religious idea and school is its church. New York City hires me to be a priest. I offer rituals to keep heresy at bay. I provide documentation to justify the heavenly pyramid.

Socrates foresaw that if teaching became a formal profession something like this would happen. Professional interest is best served by making what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating laity to priesthood. School has become too vital a jobs project, contract-giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be “re-formed.” It has political allies to guard its marches.

That’s why reforms come and go-without changing much. Even reformers can’t imagine school much different.

David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can’t tell which one learned first — the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I will label Rachel “learning disabled” and slow David down a bit, too.

For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, “special education.” After a few months she’ll be locked into her place forever.

In 26 years of teaching rich kids and poor, I almost never met a “learning disabled” child; hardly ever met a “gifted and talented” one, either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths, created by the human imagination. They derive from questionable values we never examine because they preserve the temple of schooling.

That’s the secret behind short-answer tests, bells, uniform time blocks, age grading, standardization, and all the rest of the school religion punishing our nation.

There isn’t a right way to become educated; there are as many ways as fingerprints. We don’t need state-certified teachers to make education happen–that probably guarantees it won’t.

How much more evidence is necessary? Good schools don’t need more money or a longer year; they need real free-market choices, variety that speaks to every need and runs risks. We don’t need a national curriculum, or national testing either. Both initiatives arise from ignorance of how people learn, or deliberate indifference to it.

I can’t teach this way any longer. If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know. Come fall I’ll be looking for work, I think.

If we take what Mr. Gatto recognized in 1991, and couple it with the open agenda of leftist indoctrination that Mr. Dearybury embodies, we have a truly shocking picture of what public education has become. A comment on our Facebook page in response to Mr. Dearybury’s tweet puts it in perspective.

Joseph T. wrote, “I went into education with the desire to educate children and change lives for the better. As I worked on my MAT, and gained internship hours, the more I learned that public education was not for me, nor for my growing family… Public school has become little more than “affordable” daycare that pushes agenda driven group think. The school system essentially raises the children for the parents, who were largely absent from the lives of the children in the schools I worked in. The best way to combat this wrong headed indoctrination is to pull our children out of these failed institutions of “higher learning” and raise them ourselves with meaningful values, an understanding of history, and the ability to critically think for themselves. School is not the way it was when I went, and I want my daughter to have better. It should tell you something when school teachers homeschool and/or send their children to private school. As for me, I’m looking for new work. I’m out. Good riddance.”

I don’t argue that there are still good teachers out there who either keep their politics out of the classroom or who recognize that one-size-fits-all education doesn’t work and try to meet the needs of individual students. But I have to wonder how much longer teachers like these will even be allowed to teach… or how much longer they’ll last in the current system until they burn out, as many have.

I believe that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the public education system as a viable option for anyone who doesn’t want their children mass-indoctrinated into far-left thinking. Many good teachers are quitting because they, like Mr. Gatto before them, can no longer hurt children. I’m unconvinced that this system can be reformed from within; alternatives are needed, and many exciting ones are popping up. Caring parents need to decide whether the heavy agendas being driven into students are appropriate for their children. As for me and my house, we steer clear.

— Connor

 

The Fate Of The Future

Happy New Year!

I kicked off my new year  working on a bill in my home state of Utah that will help protect people’s DNA from mass searches by law enforcement. It got me reflecting on the serious and sometimes heavy nature of most of the work that I do.

But then I got to thinking about all the good and exciting things that are going to happen in this new year and this new decade, and I was reminded how much the world has continued to improve and be made prosperous since the emergence of the market economy. For example, this article sets the stage:

Rather than poverty versus plenty separating “the many” from the “the few,” over the last two hundred years the distinction has increasingly been reduced to degrees of wealth, comfort, and luxuries among people in society. This has been the cumulative outcome of the competitive process within the market economy. The horn-of-plenty produced by private enterprise provides a vast and growing variety of goods and services available to all, a great equalization in the quality and standard of living.

Studies continue to show that the world is only improving and that capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than anything else. And that’s something to be really excited about! The more we can educate about the dangers of big government and the importance of protecting individual rights, the better people’s lives are going to continue to get. Freer people participate in freer markets which increases prosperity.

I was thinking about The Tuttle Twins and the Fate of the Future and how we are all responsible for shaping our personal futures, but also the futures of our neighborhoods, communities, countries, and, by extension, the world. The task can seem overwhelming, but I don’t think it actually has to be.

Last year, my friend Lawrence Reed penned some Modest Proposals for the New Year that I thought I’d share:

  1. To criticize less and encourage more. A kind word usually goes much further than a harsh or hasty judgment. We could all get by with less negativity.

  2. To count our own blessings, not the other guy’s, and do it regularly. Studies show that cultivating a grateful spirit improves both your mental and physical health.

  3. To improve our personal character—our truthfulness, patience, courage, honesty, responsibility, self-reliance, and introspection—before we set out to reform the world. If everybody did this, the world would by definition be reformed.

  4. To clean up our language, especially in front of youngsters. Foul language, ever more common and public these days, sets a lousy standard.

  5. To help others who need and deserve it by personally pitching in or by supporting private organizations that do the job well (like The Salvation Army). You’ll likely accomplish more good than by passing the buck and just voting for politicians who say they’ll do it with other people’s money.

  6. To read one or more good biographies of people who were (or still are) excellent examples of the virtuous life. Inspire yourself by learning of their accomplishments. Email me if you’d like a list of some especially good ones.

  7. To go out of our way to show kindness to a pet. Also, teach your children about the importance of kindness to animals. It’s a great start on the way to respecting all life, including that of our fellow humans.

  8. To smile. A lot. A lot more than comedian W. C. Fields once advised when he said, “Start every day with a smile and get it over with.”

  9. To beautify something that otherwise gets ignored. Examples: buff the sidewalk in front of our homes; pick up some litter on our streets; replace that unsightly, aged mulch, or paint the faded siding on our houses.

  10. To get to know our neighbors better. How many of us don’t actually know the folks who live two or three doors away? Go say hello.

  11. Commit now to acquainting at least one person a month with the philosophy of liberty. Choose people you have reason to believe have not heard the message before. Put careful thought into encouraging them to read an article or two, a book, or come to a FEE event. This is how we win the future—as missionaries for liberty, not cloistered monks, as I explained in this article.

This list inspires me! Imagine all the good that would come from a mass-adoption of even a few of these suggestions! I believe that this is going to be the decade of individual, family, and community activism and that the fate of our futures is as bright as we are willing to work to make them.

Want to join in?

— Connor

 

Shrimp Falafel And The American Dream

A food truck as a nightclub? Could this be the American Dream?

There’s a lot of bad (and just plain weird) news that comes out of California, so I was pleasantly surprised when I clicked on this article last week and found an inspiring story coming out of Oakland.

Elsayed Elhamak, an Egyptian immigrant, opened a food truck with his brother-in-law Mamdoho specializing in a unique dish that his mother created. He saw a niche in the market when he realized that club-goers were hungry when they left the bar, so he decided to open his truck at night only—keeping the lights on until 3am. He invested in some speakers and pumped the unique sound of Egyptian pop into the streets. Voila! Instant dance party/falafel feast.

The brothers-in-law, who separately immigrated from Egypt to the Bay Area in the 1990s, pump the infectious beats of Egyptian pop outside the truck to lure customers in — and it works. Impromptu dance parties are a common sight as hungry Oaklanders line up across the street from the Fox Theater for shawarma. The truck even has its own YouTube channel featuring footage of some of the wildest falafel-fueled nights.

Elsayed and Mamdoho are exactly the kind of immigrants that make America great. They’ve brought some of the best parts of their culture and found a way to give them to the rest of us in a way that is mutually beneficial. Oklanders are eating shrimp falafel and dancing to Egyptian pop and the brothers-in-law are building a business and achieving financial success for themselves and their families.

“This is the music I love most in my life,” Elhamaki explained. “It’s not like a classic music, it’s more shaabi music […] They’re not acting really professional when they’re singing, they’re just singing with their soul.”

Shaabi, which means “of the people,” is a form of popular working-class music that originated in Cairo in the 1970s. Popular artists include Hamo Bika and Oka Wi Ortega. You’d be hard-pressed to find it playing anywhere else in Oakland, according to Elhamaki.

“I have the signature with this music here in town,” he said.

And while most visiting the food truck don’t understand the lyrics, the language of a good beat is universal. “Even old men, old women… if they’re not dancing, they’re just moving their head, they’re moving their body. At least they’re moving something, and that’s what I’m looking for,” he said.

Bringing people of all races, ethnicities and walks of life together over good food and good music is good business in any language. Our Tuttle Twins books put a pretty heavy focus on entrepreneurship and preserving the freedom of people to conduct business in a way that brings the most value to themselves and their customers. We even have an entire book dedicated to food truck freedom! Maybe I should send a copy to Elsayed and Mamdoho?

Stories like this inspire me to keep spreading the messages of freedom and liberty and entrepreneurship. It’s a great example for our children—a testament to creativity and hard work.  I love when people set out to create something of value that betters their lives and the lives of the people they serve—and totally kill it! That’s what this is all about.

If any of you have occasion to visit Oakland, I hope you stop by Shrimp Falafel Mix and send me a picture and a review! For now, I’m thinking shawarma is on the menu for lunch in the office today… with shaabi music playing in the background… 😉

— Connor

A Leftist Rejection From Across The Pond

I want to talk about last week’s general election in the United Kingdom, but before you groan, let me explain why you should care (at least a little bit). The results were actually pretty stunning! In the biggest win since 1987 under Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative Party took an 80 seat majority. It was also the biggest defeat the leftist Labour Party has suffered since 1935. This is a pretty big deal.

I know a lot of us roll our eyes at the political happenings across the pond. With their funny hats and royal weddings and hokey ceremonial traditions, they seem more like our eccentric obscure relatives than fellow leaders of the so-called free world—but this political victory sent a pretty loud message that people in the U.K. are rejecting a lot of the leftist policies and ideas that a growing number of folks in the U.S. have been praising and trying to adopt here at home.

Just last week I observed a back-and-forth on one of our Facebook ads where a “democratic socialist” was arguing how much better life is in England. He said he plans to move there next year so that he can finally be free of the “evil” capitalism and “greed” he sees here, and instead thrive in a country whose government “actually takes care of their people.”

The reason the election results matter to the rest of us is in the message that voters chose to send to their government—and, by extension, the world. The conservatives didn’t just win the election—they pretty much destroyed the competition. They issued a resounding “nope” to the far-left ideals that the Labour Party has adopted over the last decade. And that is really good news for everyone.

I saw a meme the other day that I wish I’d have saved. Basically it pointed out that the battle has ceased to be “left v. right” but has actually shifted to be simply “the far-left v. the rest of us.” And I think there’s a good bit of truth in that. Most of Europe is ahead of the U.S. in the adoption of far-left policies, so observing the way things are playing out over there can give us a glimpse of what we can expect should those policies continue to gain support here.

As noted in Rational Standard, even the “Nordic Model” of democratic socialists is wrong because, put simply, socialism always ends up failing in every area and to every degree it is tried.

The Nordic people are not oblivious to the negative impacts of the welfare state and for the past 2 decades have been turning away from democratic socialism by introducing market reform, lowering the generosities of the welfare state, lowering taxes and moving towards greater individual freedom and a more market based economy. There are 5 (prominent) Nordic countries, 4 of which have centre-right governments which are doing market reform. (Only Sweden has a social democratic government and Sweden has never, in modern times, been as weak as they are today. Even their socialist government is doing market reform.)

When we see Nordic countries turning away from their far-left policies, and the U.K. with election results like this, we should feel encouraged that more people are waking up to the problems of socialism. Even former president Barack Obama recently cautioned democrats that they are trying to implement policies that are too far left.

Awhile back we took a survey of our Tuttle Twins readers and found that our audience is really varied. We’ve got people who identify as libertarians, republicans, anarchists, voluntaryists, minarchists, and those who choose not to identify as any “ist” at all, and they all love our books.  The one thing that I’ve found we all agree on is that the far-left is pretty scary and that putting aside differences of ideology to fight the growing threat of far-left thinking is totally worth it.

Our Tuttle Twins books cover a lot of important topics, but a recurring theme in all the books is the value of developing traits of self-reliance and personal responsibility, and that merit-based reward is always moral and right. These are principles that leftists seem to really hate.

The cool thing about all the themes of our books is that they leave kids feeling empowered. Earning what you have and working hard to get it makes you feel good and accomplished. Taking personal action to help those around you gives you confidence to tackle hard things in the future and to speak out against injustice. When kids are raised with these ideas and feeling these feelings, it’s a lot harder for their heads to be turned by popular ideologies of selfishness and laziness. 

Let’s hope this trend of rejecting leftist thinking continues in Europe and takes hold here in the United States. Small and seemingly simple changes are what brought these policies in, and they are what will eventually drive them out as well. It all starts at home—with concerned parents and grandparents teaching their kids true principles of freedom and liberty. I’m proud to have our series of kid and teen books at the forefront of the fight.

— Connor

A Climate Of Outrage And Idols…

I wish I could say I was surprised yesterday when I woke up to the news that Time magazine had named teen “climate activist” Greta Thunberg their “Person of the Year.” After all, Time awarded the same “honor” to Adolf Hitler in 1938, and featured John Maynard Keynes (the father of Keynesian economics and practically all that is wrong with current economic policy) on their cover in 1965.

I’m not saying young Greta is comparable to Hitler, of course. It’s just that Time has a history of making idols of people who really weren’t all that great. I recognize that Ms. Thunberg is just a kid, and that, like all children, she is heavily influenced by the adults in her life. I think that any criticism of Greta should really be leveled at her parents, and those who have ooched and scooched her into the international spotlight.

Recognizing that there are vastly differing opinions and beliefs—even amongst Tuttle Twins readers—about climate change, I’m mostly interested in talking about a different kind of climate change: the climate of outrage and idol worship that has permeated our culture.

Greta Thunberg is a sixteen year old “environmental activist on climate change” according to her Wiki page. It also lists her “years active” as 2018-present. So basically Time magazine has decided that of all the people in the world, a child who appeared from nowhere about a year ago and gives speeches yelling “how dare you” to the world, and all adults in general, is the most influential, benevolent, knowledgeable, or praiseworthy person for the year.

I just saw a post on social media that I thought was pretty accurate. The gist was that it seems fitting for an outraged young person who hasn’t offered any solutions, hasn’t created anything,  and hasn’t actually done anything but parrot what those in power have told her to say, would be recognized as the most influential person of 2019. That sounds about right to me. I mean, look at Antifa.

A few years ago, at the age of eighteen, Dutch student Boyan Slat  invented a method to use oceanic currents to clean plastic from the world’s oceans. He dropped out of the Aerospace Engineering program at the TU Delft (one of the top tech and engineering universities in the world) and founded the nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup. TOC is so far having success in their cleanup efforts—bringing about actual change in the healing and protection of our planet.

Why wasn’t Slat ever awarded Time’s distinguished honor? The sad answer, I believe, is that a lot of people (especially in media) are more interested in theatrics and outrage than they are in actual progress and solutions. Many would rather see a Swedish girl yelling from the pulpit at the United Nations and throwing Twitter shade at world leaders than a young man who has quietly—and successfully—devoted his time and talents to finding solutions to the world’s problems.

It’s good and right for young people to care about the world around them. It’s especially good and right for them to feel compelled to take action and be workers of change. Our entire Tuttle Twins series focuses on teaching kids that they are responsible for not just themselves, but the world around them as well—and that they can do big and difficult things.

Unfortunately, the loudest voices kids hear in entertainment and media, and even in school, are telling them that simple outrage is enough—that being an “advocate” means being angry and rude while yelling and making blanket demands that more of our money be given to government to fix whatever is supposedly wrong.

The passion of youth is being wasted on upcoming generations because most children have been indoctrinated into a world of reality TV and outrage politics. They idolize people who haven’t ever accomplished anything and see winning Twitter arguments by calling anyone who doesn’t agree with them “Nazis” or “racists” as meaningful advocacy. Even our president is best known to today’s youth as a reality television star turned Twitter ranter.

The youth of today can be a powerful voice for change in a culture that desperately needs changing. Young people have historically done some pretty brave and important things—just look at Hong Kong right now! But the world is loud, and it is doing a pretty terrible job at providing good examples and good messages to kids about what real advocacy looks like.

Books like ours help counter the misinformation and lies taught in media—and unfortunately sometimes even in school—by teaching kids how the world around them works, and how to fight against injustice in real and productive ways. Young people want to change the world. They just need good influences, good examples, and good literature to help them do it!

— Connor